Annalisa Calo has a degree in Chemistry and a master in Photochemistry and Chemistry of Materials, based in the design of molecules and materials with new properties and on their characterization by means of high-resolution techniques from the University of Bologna, Italy. During her PhD, she learned the fundamentals of atomic force microscopy (AFM) (National Research Council CNR, Italy). There, she also developed and used different techniques, like soft-lithography and electron beam lithography (EBL), to fabricate optically active organic and polymeric thin films from solutions and to spatially modulate their properties. After the PhD, she moved to Spain (IBEC, ICN2, nanoGUNE), where she specialized in force measurements with the AFM (Force Spectroscopy), which she applied to the characterization of different classes of materials, from inorganic crystals, to self-assembled monolayers, to biological structures (natural vesicles, viruses).
Annalisa's scientific interests concern the characterization of thin films and small objects at the nanoscale. For many of them, the nanoscale properties may diverge from those of bulk materials, due to self-organization processes, the presence of underlying surfaces and confinement effects. Also, small biological envelopes and architectures—like viruses—often show surprising properties. For example, a very high mechanical resistance that can be related to the molecular organization and the chemical composition at their surface. All of these properties can be investigated with many techniques, and especially taking advantage of the unique versatility and the high-resolution capabilities of the atomic force microscope (AFM). The possibility to finely modulate the interaction force on soft and even on liquid samples by AFM, opens the perspective to study very interesting nanoscale phenomena, like the organization of thin water layers on the surface of solids, and to sense organic and biological surfaces from the point of view of their wettability, nanomechanics, and chemical heterogeneity. She is now exploring dynamic AFM modes to study non-contact interactions and bonds formation in wet crystals and in surfaces exhibiting chemical heterogeneity.